The Art and Arts of E. Howard Hunt

Give Us This Day

by Howard Hunt
Arlington House, 235 pp., $7.95

The Berlin Ending

by E. Howard Hunt
Putnam’s, 310 pp., $6.95

East of Farewell

by Howard Hunt
Random House

Limit of Darkness

by Howard Hunt
Random House

Stranger in Town

by Howard Hunt
Random House

Maelstrom

by Howard Hunt
Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Bimini Run

by Howard Hunt
Macfadden-Bartell, 160 pp., $.75 (paper)

A Foreign Affair

by John Baxter
Avon

I Came to Kill

by Gordon Davis
Fawcett

Be My Victim

by Robert Dietrich
Dell

End of a Stripper

by Robert Dietrich
Dell

Angel Eyes

by Robert Dietrich
Dell

A Gift for Gomala

by John Baxter
Lippincott

Where Murder Waits

by Gordon Davis
Fawcett, 157 pp., $.95 (paper)

The Coven

by David St. John
Fawcett, 159 pp., $.95 (paper)

Compulsive Spy: The Strange Career of E. Howard Hunt

by Tad Szulc
Viking, 179 pp., $5.95

An Assassin’s Diary

by Arthur H. Bremer
Pocket Books, 142 pp., $1.50

From December 7, 1941, to August 15, 1973, the United States has been continuously at war except for a brief, too little celebrated interregnum. Between 1945 and 1950 the empire turned its attention to peaceful pursuits and enjoyed something of a golden or at least for us not too brazen an age. The arts in particular flourished. Each week new genius was revealed by the press; and old genius decently buried. Among the new novelists of that far-off time were Truman Capote (today a much loved television performer) and myself. Although we were coevals (a word that the late William Faulkner thought meant evil at the same time as), we were unlike: Capote looked upon the gorgeous Speed Lamkin as a true tiger in the Capotean garden where I saw mere lambkin astray in my devouring jungle.

The one thing that Capote and I did have in common was a need for money. And so each of us applied to the Guggenheim Foundation for a grant; and each was turned down. Shocked, we compared notes. Studied the list of those who had received grants. “Will you just look,” moaned Truman, “at those ahh-full pee-pull they keep giving muh-nee to!” Except for the admirable Carson McCullers who got so many grants in her day that she was known as the conductress on the gravy train, the list of honored writers was not to our minds distinguished. Typical of the sort of novelist the Guggenheims preferred to Capote and me in 1946 was twenty-eight-year-old (practically middle-aged) Howard Hunt, author of East of Farewell (Random House, 1943); a novel described by the publishers as “probably the first novel about this war by an American who actually helped fight it.” The blurb is unusually excited. Apparently, H.H. “grew up like any other American boy” (no tap-dancing on a river boat for him) “going to public schools and to college (Brown University, where he studied under I.J. Kapstein).”

A clue. I slip into reverie. Kapstein will prove to be my Rosebud. The key to the Hunt mystery. But does Kapstein still live? Will he talk? Or is he afraid? I daydream. “Hunt…E. Howard Hunt…ah, yes. Sit down, Mr.…uh, Bozell? Forgive me…this last stroke seems to have…. Where were we? Howie. Yes. I must tell you something of the Kapstein creative writing method. I require the tyro pen-man to copy out in long hand some acknowledged world masterpiece. Howie copied out—if memory serves—Of Human Bondage.”

But until the Kapstein Connection is made, I must search the public record for clues. The dust jacket of H.H.’s first novel tells us that he became a naval ensign in May, 1941. “There followed many months of active duty at sea on a destroyer, on the North Atlantic patrol, protecting the life-line to embattled England….” That’s more like it. My eyes shut: the sea. A cold foggy day. Slender, virile H.H. arrives (by kayak?) at …

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Letters

The Kapstein Konnection February 21, 1974